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Some of the most effective treatments for enhancing fertility do not involve doctors, pills, or in vitro fertilization. They cost little or nothing at all, and they carry little or no risk of side effects.

Some of the most effective treatments for enhancing fertility do not involve doctors, pills, or in vitro fertilization. They cost little or nothing at all, and they carry little or no risk of side effects.

With the cautionary note that any couple trying to conceive should see a doctor if six months of unprotected intercourse does not result in fertility, here are the top five natural remedies for restoring fertility.

1. Dieting--by the woman--usually increases fertility. Food choices can have a definite impact on fertility--there's even a gender diet. Although the gender of the child is determined by the X or Y chromosome donated by the father's sperm, whether or not an X-containing sperm cell or a Y-containing sperm cell ever reaches the egg is somewhat influenced by the acidity or alkalinity of the woman's cervical mucus. Eating lots of calcium-rich foods seems to favor sperm with the X chromosome, resulting in a girl baby, and eating lots of protein-rich foods seems to favor sperm with the Y chromosome, resulting in a boy baby. Whichever gender is desired for the baby, the woman's cervix is more likely to conduct sperm to the egg when she eats a healthy diet of "real" foods, rather than sugar-rich foods or diet foods.

2. When a woman's fertility is limited by polycystic ovarian syndrome, also known as PCOS, sometimes all that is needed is enough calorie restriction that she loses 2 to 5 pounds. When women are overweight, sometimes the ovaries are flooded with sugar from the bloodstream. This makes the ovaries "hyperactive," so that instead of producing just a tiny amount of testosterone (the sex hormone associated with male sexual characteristics such as body hari), the ovaries produce a great deal of testosterone, enough to interfere with her fertility. In about half of women who have PCOS, just a little low-calorie dieting is enough to enable conception in just six months.

3. Babies are more likely to result from sexual intercourse performed in the missionary position (man on top). When the man penetrates the woman from above, the penis is stretched and placed at a maximal depth into the cervix. This gives sperm a shorter path to travel to fertilize the egg.

4. Babies are less likely to be conceived when intercourse follows extensive foreplay. Foreplay elevates the uterus. This gives the sperm a longer path to travel to reach the egg. Neither the position during intercourse nor the performance of foreplay is relevant to conception, of course, except for the few days around the ovulation.

5. The herbs vitex and dong quai both enhance fertility, but only women should take them. Vitex reduces the production of testosterone. This is good for female fertility, but devastating for male fertility. Men seeking to become fathers should never take vitex. Dong quai reduces estrogen production during the first half of a woman's period. When the issue in a woman's fertility is endometriosis or endometrial tissue blocking the fallopian tubes, dong quai reduces the growth of that tissue by reducing the production of estrogen. Dong quai, however, is also primarily a women's herb.

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